Sunday, February 7, 2010

Straight Forward Pesto

Pesto is pretty straight forward. A simple sauce with no frills or gimmicks. Roughly 7 ingredients are needed to make this delicious sauce. Some people like to make things complicated by making "arugula pesto" and in my book using arugula to make pesto isn't kosher. So let's not get confused from the get go, this is a basil pesto. Got it? Good. This pesto is best in the summer when basil can be purchased at the farmers market or grown on your sunny windowsill (ahhhhhh sustainability). Moving along... This recipe can be made vegan with the omition of parmigiano reggiano. Also, if need be you can go ahead and make this in the winter using basil from who knows where but please let's keep it as local as possible or organic. I don't want this green magical sauce giving unborn children gills.


1 or 2 bunches of basil
3-4 cloves of garlic (vampires?!)
1/2 cup of extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
1/2 cup pignolia nuts (pine nuts)
Salt to taste
A few cracks from the old pepper mill
1/4 cup parmigiano regiano (don't try and get away with pecorino or romano)

For a vegan option simply omit the cheese.


Wash and spin the basil till all sand and silt is out of the picture.

Heat a skillet up on med-high heat and add the pine nuts. Keep those babies moving around the pan so they toast evenly and don't burn. Once they are fragrant and light brown remove from heat and let cool.

In a food processor add all the ingredients and pulse til you have achieved an even and creamy consistency. If the pesto isn't creamy enough add a tablespoon of water or a lil bit more olive oil till you have reached your desired consistency. Hey, some people like it chunky so this part is up to personal taste.

Once you're done blending taste to make sure it has enough of everything. There should be enough bite from the garlic and enough sweetness from the basil, and enough nuttiness from the pine nuts. Is there enough salt? Enough pepper for your liking? 

With a flexible silicon spatula scrape all the pesto out of the food processor and divy it up into the ice cube trays or freeze in a lump. As. You. Wish. I learned this freezing trick from my parents--small, ice-cube sized portions of pesto are great for individual dinners, and they take much less time to thaw out than a huge container of pesto.
A few weeks ago, we we roasted brocoli and brussel sprouts and added them to the pesto and pasta mix. It was delicious, nutty, salty and satisfying.

To do this:

Boil water. Add pasta, cook as instructed. 
Chop brussel sprouts and broccoli. Add to pan. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper. Roast in the oven at 425, mixing often, until tender. Add pesto ice cubes, mix well, and cook until pesto melts into veggies. Remove from heat.
Drain pasta. 
Mix pasta, pesto and veggies together.


1 comment:

  1. So you city folks have something against arugula?? We farmers up north grow bushels of it, and kale too. and I find if you have more kale than basil and need a way to use it up, making a huge batch of kale or arugula pesto and freezing it to keep you fed in the winter is a fine idea. but yes, basil tastes best! I like your ice cube trick! mmm now I want to eat pasta!